The Watchman

The Watchman

Friday, September 6, 2013

Another blessing

Isn't it funny how your mind works sometimes?  About a month ago, Hunter was asked by one of his mission companions if they could still log into their LDS email accounts.  Hunter didn't know the answer, so he decided to check it out.  Much to his dismay, he learned that his account had been deactivated and so he no longer had access to any of the emails he had sent home during his two years in Montana.  He bounced back with: That's okay, because you should still have them in your account mom.

So we checked.  And found that for whatever reason is there in the world of gmail, there are no letters.  Still okay Hunter said, there is the blog you kept for me while I was gone.  Nope, because I didn't start posting to the blog until his mission was about half over.  That is still okay he said.  I have pictures and memories.  I on the other hand was heartbroken for my son.

Now here is a confession, after our house fire which resulted in the loss of our computer, all the letters Hunter had sent previously were gone from my internet account.  So just after that first Christmas, he sent me his log in information and I spent part of a day going back in to his account and forwarding those letters to myself.  But it appeared that even those had been lost along with everything else.

But isn't it funny how your mind works sometimes?  Last night as I was sitting checking email, paying bills, stalking my friends on Facebook and all those other things I do on a daily basis on the computer, it came in to my mind to check my other email account, the one I now use solely for paying bills.  Sure enough, there they all were, including all the emails I had forwarded that covered the first part of his mission, the part that was pre-blog.

Since it was about ten at night, I immediately sent Hunter an email letting him know what I had found.  The response I received this morning was a resounding: EXCELLENT!

Happy day!!  We are so blessed! :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I have been thinking a lot about choices lately.  Everyday we make choices; good or bad.  I think for most people, making choices is easy.  In fact, there are many choices we make every day without even thinking.  The hard part comes after the choice is made when we are asked to be accountable for those choices.  When a good choice is made, it is easy to take the credit and reap the rewards.  When the choice was a poor one, too often we look for justification that includes trying to deflect the attention on to someone else.

In my life I have made what I feel are good choices.  These choices have brought me much joy.  I feel overall I am a good person and I try to think through my actions and let my faith guide me.  But because I am human, I have also made poor choices.  Unfortunately at times those poor choices have hurt others and I have had to work to repair the damage I have caused.  But even as I have had to accept responsibility for my choices and where necessary work through the process of repentance, I know that I am the person I am today because of the lessons I learned and the growth I have experienced.  Real growth is only experienced when we accept responsibility for our choices, both good and bad.

Now I sit here as a parent with children that I can no longer control and direct as I once did.  This is a good thing.  This is what I wanted.  Rick and I have worked hard to raise responsible adults who can take care of themselves and be a benefit to the community where they reside.  I thrill when I read letters from my son telling me of the service he is providing the people in California.  I am overjoyed when my son calls and asks my opinion on a project or activity he is planning for the dorm he supervises.  I am in awe at the change in priorities my son has experienced as he has chosen to put God first in his life.  I still face trepidation as I watch my daughters begin to spread their wings and take their first steps on the road to independence.

For me, the hardest part of this shift is watching these precious children that I love more than anything make poor choices and face the resulting consequences.  In my heart, I know that these are what will help build their character.  They need to face their own struggles, but I still want to pick them up, hold them, and kiss them till it is all better.  I know I can't don my armor and fight the dragon for them anymore.  I will not be there with them forever, they need to stand on their own.  So this is the lesson I am learning now: I need to let my children grow on their own.  Hopefully I have provided them the skills and the foundation of faith they need to lead happy, productive and righteous lives.

One of my sons shared with me that this is one of his favorite paintings of the Savior.  I find myself being drawn to it again and again trying to figure out why this picture has had such an impact on my son.  As I have pondered how it has touched his soul, it has found meaning for me in my life.

Christ Walking on Water - Julius von Klever
I have thought how calm Jesus appears as He walks.  Even as the waves toss and tumble around Him, throwing the boat to and fro, there is no sense of panic, just an image of quiet contemplation.  I have thought of the account of this scene from the scriptures and how the apostles in the boat at first thought they were seeing a ghost and were afraid.  When they realized it was the Master, Peter began to go out across the waves to meet Him.  But Peter soon let the tumultuous seas cause him to falter and he began to sink.  It was only when the Lord took Peter by the hand that Peter's faith returned and he was able to complete the journey.

As I have continued to ponder how this story applies to my life, I think back to choices.  Everyday I make choices.  When I look to the principles of my faith for direction in my choices, they are inevitably good.  It is when I try to rely on myself and my own understanding that I struggle in my choices.  Just as I do not want my children to fail, my Heavenly Father does not want me to fail.  This is why He provided a Savior for His children.  I know that it is only through applying His example and His teachings to guide my choices that I will be able to be at peace as the storms of life rage around me.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Yet Another Tremor

I know I haven't written anything lately about the fire or the part of our life that still feels the impact.  We have come to accept that the smell of smoke or the site of a column rising into the air will make our heart race a little faster and the actual site of flames or the sound of a fire alarm will send us into full on panic.  In talking with others who have had a similar experience, I have come to understand that this will probably be a fact of life for the rest of our lives.  That's just the way it is.

Luckily this summer, even with dangerous fire conditions, actual fires have not been as numerous as in past years.  The 4th of July fireworks did not set any hillsides on fire.  Our neighbors obeyed the rules for the most part and kept personal displays to the City parks.  Lightening caused fires have not been as prevalent either.  Unfortunately, the record high temperatures did crazy things to our fire detectors and so twice this summer they have chosen to go off in the middle of the night for no explainable reason.

The first time, my husband tried to be dutiful and go around the house changing batteries and resetting sensors, only to have the words, "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" continue to blare.  Not fun at two in the morning.  The second time it happened, we just turned off the circuit breaker and went back to bed.  I did have a "Boy Who Cried Wolf" moment and so did make a quick walk through the house and around the outside to verify that there was no fire.  Since the weather has cooled, there have been no more incidents.

Today we identified another ripple in the pond.  We spent part of the day in St. George shopping for new dance clothes for Emily.  Last year, her dance shoes were a size 2.  Today we bought size 7.  She has grown so much.  This had led to a thorough cleaning of the closet.  Boxes of too small clothing now fill our bedroom closet.  The ripple came as Emily became very anxious about letting things go.  To her, these items of clothing, still many of which were those given to us after the fire, have become the foundation of her sense of security.

We sat down with her and talked about her feelings.  Eventually, she was able to help us pack the clothing away.  Before the fire, this had never been an issue and the kids enjoyed giving their things to someone who could use them.  We will see how it goes this time when we try to take the boxes to Deseret Industries.

Just like a stone thrown in a pond, the ripples are getting farther apart and fainter as we move from the epicenter, but occasionally they are still visible.

Friday, August 16, 2013

East Meets West in Zion

About the second week of summer, our family was doing what we normally do on a Saturday morning - hanging at the pool watching our daughters swim.  I guess it is more accurate to say that some of us were competing, some of us were timing, some of us were running the scoring system and prepping ribbons and Rick was doing a fine job announcing.  Basically, our Saturdays in the summer are consumed by the Hurricane Tigersharks' swim meets, just as our mornings in the summer are devoted to swim team practice.  I don't know many kids or parents willing to get up at 5 in the morning, every morning during summer break, but that is what we do.

So on this particular Saturday, another swim parent asked Rick and I if we would consider hosting a student from Japan in our home for two weeks at the end of the summer.  This to me was an answer to prayer.  As Wil continues to work to return to his LDS mission in Japan, he has struggled with the lack of language practice and that he is losing his ability to speak and understand Japanese.  What a better way to gain a refresher than to have a Japanese student right in our home.

Even though Hunter was discouraging of the idea, with the enthusiasm of the girls and Wil's acquiescence, we started the application process.  We had hoped for a boy, since we have an extra bed in Wil's room, but when assignments were made, we learned that we would be hosting a 16-year-old girl.  This resulted in some shifting of rooms and Wil sleeping on the couch for a few nights, but all was good.

One of my favorite memories was Hunter's goodbye dinner at Oscar's in Springdale.  Yuriko literally gasped when her hamburger was brought out.  For those of you who have been there, I am sure you have a good idea why.  For the rest of you, here is a picture:

By the way, dessert received a similar reaction, although a little more subdued.  I think she was still in shock from the Maui Burger.

As an only child of a father who is a doctor and a stay-at-home mom, Yuriko got to spend two weeks in the craziness that is sometimes our home.  During her visit, Hunter went back to school, Lela and Emily registered and started school, Rick had City Council and I had Planning Commission meetings.  She helped us set up the seed display for the County Fair, then went with us to the fair and back-to-school shopping.  She read scriptures with our family in the mornings and attended church for the first time in her life. She went with us when we went to vote, enjoyed Friday night pizza night from Dominos and Friday morning cinnamon rolls from River Rock Roasting Company.  She also enjoyed our favorite treat at the Big Chill and home-made ice-cream at Sandhollow.

According to her she ate more food than she ever does at home.  I hope all the new clothes she bought wasn't because she needed something that fit.  It was fun watching her take a picture of everything she ate to send home to her mother.

Although we couldn't get her on the carnival rides at the county fair, she did go canoeing with the Young Women in our ward.  She also hiked quite a bit and she was able to see a family of deer up close and not in a zoo, and a camel that was in a pen, and some rattlesnakes.  She learned to play Phase 10 and Uno where she held her own and seriously humiliated my children on the Wii.  She became more adventurous and my girls got to spend time with someone a little more gentle and soft-spoken than they normally are.

While there were times we never knew for sure how much Yuriko understood, we did learn that a smile and laughter transcend any language barrier.  And as far as Wil and his Japanese language skills, he got some practice in and was told more than once that he speaks very well.  Would we host a student again?  Probably.  It was a great experience for our whole family.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Let's Celebrate!!!

I love the 24th of July!  I love the parades.  I love the rodeos.  I love the fireworks.  I love the cookouts.  I love that it is a day that is unique to Utah and the heritage of this State.

I woke this morning thinking about the great pioneer heritage my LDS faith has given me.  Ancestors such as Patty Bartlett Sessions, Sanford Bingham, Hendrikus Dikkema and many others.  My husband also has a great pioneer heritage.  These individuals are an example of choosing to do the hard thing because they knew in their hearts it was the right thing to do.  They left their comfortable homes and lives.  They left friends and family.  They sacrificed their time, their talents, their property, and for some their lives to serve God and to serve their fellowman.

While these are great stories I often share with my children, this morning my thoughts have specifically turned to my two grandmothers: Edna Hancock Dickamore Rollins and Zora Roberts Cook.  These two women, though born almost 20 years apart shared many experiences that have blessed my life.  Both came from hard-working, but more well off, families.  Both married men who subsequently became ill and that they were left to care for.  After being widowed at young ages, both women were left with young children to raise in an economy that left few career choices for women.

Both these women worked hard and supported their families.  They did not believe in taking handouts.  They believed in being self-sufficient.  Two memories stand out strongly in my mind about these two amazing women.

Even after going blind, my Grandma Rollins wanted to live on her own and found a way to do so.  She was always cheerful when we would go visit her and she loved to "read" getting books on tape from the library.

Shortly before my Grandma Cook passed away, we were helping her in her yard.  I loved this time when I would take my sons and go spend time with grandma.  As we were talking she shared with me how much she loved my grandfather and how she missed him.  She told me that she was ready to be with him again.  She shared with me that being without him for almost 40 years was a long time to have been alone and that she had been lonely.

From these great women, I gained a love of learning; to never stop learning something new everyday.  I learned to work hard and that a woman can do anything; it may not be easy, but with determination, you can do it.  I learned to value my marriage; it is a blessing that could easily be taken away.  I learned to love.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I Hope They Call Me On A Mission

So imagine the scene:  A family gathered together; father, mother, brothers and sisters.  One member of the family sits in the middle of the group holding a letter.  You can tell by looking at him that he is both excited and nervous.  Slowly and carefully he pulls back the flap, as he thinks of the time he has spent preparing for this moment.  He can hardly believe this day is here.  In the background he can hear his brothers and sisters cheering him on and urging him to hurry.  He can tell that his father and mother are excited for the new adventure he is to embark on, but that they are also anxious.  He will be leaving them.  Has he learned enough to make the right choices?  Will he return to them when this time is over?  How much they love him and how they will miss him.  Will he write?  Will he let them know what is happening to him?  Will he ask for help and advice when he needs it?

These are all thoughts that went through my mind each time I watched one of my boys open their letter or "mission call" assigning them to the area they would serve for 2 years for the LDS church.  These times have always left me with mixed emotions: happiness that they have met this goal, excitement that they are embarking on a life changing experience, but also sadness because I knew how much I would miss each of them.  

When Jon opened his mission call, these feelings were especially strong.  Hunter was home and there with us via Facetime and Wil was still in Japan.  Three boys at three different points on the continuum. As I thought about this, I had the strongest impression that this is in a small way how our Heavenly Father felt as we left His presence to come to earth to gain a body and to be tested. To learn and to grow.  To gain experience we could gain in no other way.

Do we write home or pray when times are good and not just when they are bad?  Are we willing to heed the counsel He has given us through the scriptures and continues to give us through a living prophet and answer to our personal prayer?  Will we diligently strive to return home to Him?  

How joyous have been our reunions when our sons have returned home!!!  Lots of tears! Lots of hugs! Lots of smiles and laughter!  Lots of excitement as experiences are retold!  How much more joyous will be the welcome we receive from our Heavenly family when we return there.

Friday, June 21, 2013

An Amazing Quarter of a Century

A "few" years ago as my 25th birthday approached, my dear sweet husband decided I needed a little perspective on this milestone.  He told me that you knew you were getting old when you could measure your age in years (25), decades (2 1/2) and centuries.  Needless to say, at the time I did not appreciate that perspective.

But today, as I wake to the morning of our 25th wedding anniversary, I like the view I have.  To say I have been married to my best friend, the best man I know, for a quarter of century is the greatest blessing I have in my life.  On his calendar, Rick has marked this day as the anniversary of "The Most Important Day in My Life".  How I love this man and how blessed I have been to be his wife.

I have mentioned before that when he proposed, Rick promised me that life would be an adventure.  This last year has been a rough spot in that adventure as Rick was under investigation and charged by the State Attorney General's office for mishandling public money, with the case being dismissed only two days ago.  It has been hard for me to watch the man that I know to be one of the most honest people I have ever met go through something where his integrity was questioned in such a public fashion.  

A few years ago a friend gave me a desk calendar that has a scripture and thought for each day.  Since it is reusable, it continues to sit on my desk and provide inspiration.  Rick had his preliminary hearing on Wednesday.  That day the scripture on my calendar was Matthew 5:16 - "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  This scripture was perfect for the day.  

The courtroom was filled with individuals who know Rick and support him.  Even individuals who do not agree with him philosophically, know him to be an honest individual of the highest integrity.  This meant so much to him.  All the words of encouragement have been so appreciated by all of us.  All the hugs have strengthened us.  All the baked goods have been enjoyed by our children who found this time confusing that this could happen to their dad, their hero.  The passion of Rick's attorney, Cliff Dunn, kept our spirits up with his honesty regarding the issues.  In the end, the judge saw through the smokescreens and distractions the AGs office tried to use to cloud the truth and found that there was no crime committed and so dismissed all the charges.  What a happy day for us!! In fact I am still doing a happy dance.

Today, I know that I am a better person because I am Rick's wife.  He is my biggest supporter.  He has absolute faith in me and my abilities.  Because of his faith, I find myself willing to spread my wings and take chances.  I know he has done the same for our children.  He has always been their biggest fan.  The girls joke that he is the "No" dad, but the boys will tell them that is really my role.  Dad has always been the "You can do it!" dad.

So here we are 25 years together.  I am looking forward to the next 25 years and on through eternity.

I loved this video, but let me warn you, it is a tear-jerker. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bear One Another's Burdens

Mosiah 18:8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

So, something awful happened yesterday.  And yes for a moment it knocked us on our butts and had us questioning ourselves.  In the end though, it has been shown to be a childish act of attempted intimidation.  Today we are pretty sure we know who was behind it and that is all I want to say about it here.  Our family has been on a roller coaster for the last little while.  I haven't blogged about it, because I have young children who are upset by all the upheaval and I want to avoid unnecessary worry by having them talk to us instead of reading something they may or may not understand completely.

Yesterday, I found the messages received in church especially poignant.  The testimonies of faith and hope shared helped strengthen my own.  The message that our loving Heavenly Father has provided us direction on the path that we must follow to return to Him is comforting.  The organization of His church is perfect.  Our commitment at baptism to take upon us the name of Christ, to always remember Him and keep His commandments and to bear one another's burdens is the heart of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

To me, these words are more than a passive statement of belief.  They are a commitment of action.  I was reminded yesterday of why I love this community that we have chosen to make our home.  Our family has also been blessed with wonderful friends outside the immediate community. I have tried to apologize many times to our friends when events in our lives have spilled over and caused discomfort and stress and extra work for them.  Again and again I have received the reassurance both in word and deed that we are surrounded by individuals who are truly amazing and caring; individuals who have taken the question "What would Jesus have me do?" as the guide for their lives.  Our hearts our lightened by all the love we receive.  

Yesterday, each time our doorbell rang with a new visitor, many bearing treats, our girls would ask why all these people were coming to see us and bringing us so many yummy things.  The answer to that question was because they think your dad is awesome.  As one sweet friend advised, to those who tried to ruin what was a beautiful Sabbath, all I need to say is "God bless."

For a beautiful message on Enduring Together, click here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Last Road Trip

This last week, I experienced one of those "everything is changing" moments.  The thing about this time was that I wasn't the only one feeling it.  These days I often find myself feeling melancholy about the "good ol' days" when my children were young and all at home.  It has been especially hard as my baby boy, otherwise known as Jon, prepares to leave the proverbial nest to serve an LDS mission in California.  Prior moments of reminiscence have been met with eye rolling and head shaking by my sons, but this time they too realized that the things are really changing and it will never be just us again.  So the trip the four of us took this week to move Hunter from his dorm was a bittersweet journey for all of us.

When the boys were young, Rick was often gone for extended periods of time; first with school and then with the military.  These were the days before GPS, and so the boys and I had many "adventures" together (read time spent being lost and trying to find our way).  With three young boys in tow, I have travelled from coast to coast.  The times that the four of us were left on our own and even left to move the household are the times of legend and laughter. When Hunter first learned of cars that had indicators in them that would indicate north, south, east or west (still not GPS), he told Rick that our next vehicle purchased needed that option so I could find my way.  I think he breathed a sigh of relief when Rick finally gave me a GPS system for the car.

When Jon was a newborn, we moved to Petersburg, Virginia.  Rick was often gone at night as he completed his Officer Basic Course and Airborne School.  Hunter and Wil made it their mission to keep Jon laughing and they were very good at it.  Our nights were filled with silly dances and songs.  When Rick graduated OBC, we moved him from Virginia to Georgia for jump school and then the boys and I went back to our home in Virginia.  I can remember stopping at McDonald's for food along the route home, sitting Jon in a highchair and giving Hunter and Wil strict instructions to not move from the booth and to yell real loud if anyone came too near them.  I still see how these two big brothers continue to look out for Jon.  I guess those patterns of behavior planted all those years ago remain deeply rooted.  

Later, we moved from Virginia to El Paso, Texas via Utah.  I drove our car with the boys while towing a Uhaul trailer with all our belongings.  Rick followed behind in another car we were taking back to Utah for his brother.  At one point I was approaching a stoplight when a car cut in front of me.  All I could do was put on the brakes and pray.  Rick told me that as he watched helplessly from behind, all he could see was his family being wiped out as he imagined me hitting the car in front and then the trailer's momentum continuing to propel it forward and crushing us.  He said he watched smoke come from the tires and was amazed we were able to stop.  By the time the light turned green, my heart rate had almost returned to normal.  This was not the only time I know that the boys and I were protected as we journeyed together.

When the boys were older, we flew to Los Angeles to see Rick's sister.  Lela was six months old at the time.  The boys and I took Lela and headed west.  Rick and his mom were coming on a later flight, but had sent their luggage with us, since they would be hurrying to make their flight and didn't want to worry about checking baggage.  The flight itself went smooth as we were able to sit in an area that had two rows of seats facing each other.  Upon arrival in LA, Rick's sister was not at the baggage claim area, so Jon (8) held Lela while Hunter (12) and Wil (9) helped me locate the luggage and load it onto two luggage carts, then push those carts into the main area of the airport to wait for our ride.

The four of us have always been a team.  The boys will say that the girls have had a completely different experience growing up because Rick has been here with them and able to be more involved.  The girls complain and call Rick the "No Dad" and I am the "Yes Mom", but the boys remember things different.  They remember that when dad was home, things were fun and dad always said yes, while I always was the one to tell them no.  I don't think either gender of children has it exactly right.  Funny how perspective works.

So back to the last road trip:  Wil has come home for a time from his service as a missionary for the LDS Church.  This came as a surprise, but we have also found blessings from it.  I do not think that when Wil left my sons recognized the significance of not being together for three years.  At the time, Jon was still in high school and Hunter was newly returned from his own missionary service.  Wil came home to Jon ready to finish his first year of college and then leave within the month for his LDS mission.  Hunter is only a year away from graduating from Utah State University and then he will be off into the real world of job and his own home.  But for this last summer, Hunter decided to come back home to Southern Utah during his break from school.  Maybe it was because he knew I was having an extra hard time at the thought of Jon leaving.  Maybe he just missed my cooking.  Maybe he wanted to get somewhere that he could thaw out.  Whatever the reason, I am glad he is here.

With the girls' school year still in session and the end of the year approaching with all the end of level tests, they did not feel that they could take time off to move Hunter.  Also Rick had things at work that required him to be in the office, so he too felt that he could not make the trip north.  That left Wil, Jon and I to go and help Hunter with his move from dorm to storage shed and then home.

We left late Sunday evening, knowing that we had a six plus hour drive ahead of us.  When the boys were young, the car was filled with the sounds of Barney and Disney tunes.  This drive we sang along with Bon Jovi and Billy Joel.  I wasn't the sole driver as Jon took a turn at the wheel and instead of Rick following behind me in the second vehicle, it was Hunter.  We spent Sunday night in the dorm with Hunter.  I remember those beds being more comfortable when I was younger and when I mentioned that fact, Jon commented on how comfortable he thought they were.  Oh to be 18 again!

How amazing it was to watch my three boys pack and carry boxes, wipe down shelves, vacuum and mop floors.  My job was to open doors and then do a final check of the dorm before we left.  Good thing too, since I found a pair of shorts in a bedroom drawer that Hunter had overlooked.  After I had checked each room, I shut the door behind me.  I remembered doing something similar when we moved from Virginia, only I did not lock the doors.  During that move, we reached our hotel the first night to discover that Hunter had left his Pooh bear back in Petersburg.  He had taken the bear back into his bedroom because Pooh was sad to leave and had hidden him behind the bed.  Luckily we had an understanding landlord that shipped the toy to Utah and so Pooh arrived not long after us.

On the way back south Tuesday, we made a stop at Hogle Zoo.  We have had a membership at the zoo for many years and it was one of our favorite summer day trips when we lived in Ogden.  It might have seemed strange to the families with young children to see three young men lining up and posing for pictures right along with their children.  I am glad my sons decided to humor me.  They kept saying things about how it was beginning to sink in that this was probably the last time we would get to do this as just us.  Lots of memories came flooding back, along with the acknowledgement that by the time these three are together again, there will probably be girls other than mom and sisters as a permanent part of their lives with their own children to follow.  

Rick conceded long ago, that while the girls are ours, the boys have always been in the most basic sense mine.  So it just seemed right that this last road trip be just the four of us as it had been so many times before.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

26 Valentines

On the first Valentine's Day that Rick and I were actually together (prior Valentine's Days he had been on an LDS mission), Rick picked me up, took me for a drive and presented me with a bottle of sparkling cider, two wine glasses etched with hearts and a candy jar full of conversation hearts.  Since it was really late at night, we ended up sitting in front of my parents house drinking the cider and playing what has become an annual favorite.  I don't think we have given it an official name, but since that night, each year we break out  boxes of conversation hearts and start making sentences.  The sillier the better:

Dare Ya Kiss Me
Be Mine Soul Mate
My Cutie I'm Sure Love You
Don't Tell You Rock So Fine UR Mine
Get Real Love You My Cutie

I'm off to buy more hearts and let the games begin.

Happy Valentine's Day to my forever Valentine!!!!

with Hunter

with Wil

with Jon

with Lela

with Emily

Monday, January 28, 2013

There is No Place Like Home

It has been almost two years since we moved back into our home. . I cannot begin to explain how wonderful it is to be in a place that is ours that we love and where we feel we belong. How great it is to sit in the living room and be able to look out at the Pine Valley Mountains. The view is one of the reasons we bought our home in the first place and we have spent hours watching the storms come over those mountains, watching sunrises and sunsets on the mountains, and enjoying the snow from a distance. Over these last years, I have watched our children regain their emotional footing as they have once again put down their roots.  Even for those who don't live with us full-time, this is home.  I know it is because we have invested more in this house than any of the other ten homes we have ever lived in.

This weekend I attended my annual Women's Retreat that focuses on scrapbooking/ taking time for yourself to complete projects/ or just taking time for yourself.  It is a nice break away from the day to day that I only seem to make it to every other year.  I have posted about this event before here and here.  I went with two projects to finish.  During the weekend I was able to complete one of the albums, except for about 10 pictures that I forgot to print and I was able to get a good start on the second one.  The second album was one Rick requested that would be dedicated to the scouting experiences of his sons from Cub Scouts through Eagle Scout.  I think he is feeling sentimental since this year marked the end of our family having a son in Boy Scouts.  It is one I plan on finishing before Valentine's as his present.

I want to say that to me, scrapbooks are more than just pictures on the page.  They are the way I tell my family history.  Along with this blog, I use our albums to share with my children the stories I want them to remember.  Since the house fire and the subsequent events have become such a pivotal part of our family history, the first project I took was an album dedicated solely to this time in our lives - from fire to finishing the landscaping on our new home.  I wanted to take it so I could be surrounded by the wonderful and supportive women that attend this retreat.  I knew that I would need that emotional support as I looked back on those sometimes dark days.

As I worked on the album, it gave me time to remember all the miracles that we witnessed during that time. First I need to express my appreciation to all the wonderful people that supported us.  I reread cards and letters sent to us then and when we first moved in to the house.  Last night as Jon looked through the album, he told me he got choked up reading the things people sent us and seeing the pictures.  Emily looked at it this morning and said it makes her both happy and sad.

Next a big shout of thanks to Rob Burdick, TruMax Inc. He was the most amazing General Contractor and was perfect for us. I had a vision of what our home would look like, what would be important to help us rebuild the foundation of our family. His role was crucial in turning that vision into reality and he did an incredible job.

Then there are all the other contractors who worked on our home. There were so many others who did incredible work and some others who did not.  Isn't that the way life is though?  I am still amazed at the efforts of Sheral Construction. During some of the worst weather we had had in a long time; weather that resulted in flooding and Southern Utah receiving a disaster declaration, these men braved the elements and literally built our house from the ground up since very few preformed elements could be used.  The pictures of the main beam across the roof and their attaching the supports still leave me in awe.

We are still involved with the final stages of the insurance claim.  Who knew that it would go on for 2 1/2 years, but it finally seems to be winding down.  Hopefully that part of the experience will soon be behind us.  From this experience, my testimony in the goodness of people and the love our Heavenly Father was reconfirmed.  I also gained a greater understanding that while He wants to help His children, He needs us to serve as His hands at times.  I think Jon summed up all our feelings best when he told us that walking in the door after school on the 31st of March 2011 was the first day he felt like he was truly home in nine months. This is the story I want my children to remember.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Of Motorcycles, Batteries and Broken Pipes

Today is a day to celebrate at our house for a couple of reasons:

First, it is raining and it is a nice gentle rain, not the monsoon rain that we see in the summer or the freezing winter rain of northern Utah.  This is the kind of winter weather we have come to expect and appreciate in Southern Utah.  This is the kind of rain that is lovely to go for a walk in.  And yesterday, the moisture building in the air created one of the most beautiful sunrises I have seen.

Rain also means no more broken pipes.  Last week Rick and I were in St. George at a meeting, when I received a call from Lela telling me that when she came home from school, she found there was a beautiful water fountain at the top of the driveway.  In a panic, I called the City office and asked if there was anyway someone could go over and shut our water off  until we could get home.  Luckily they were able to help.  I pulled Rick out of his meeting just in time to receive the confirmation that "Yes, you do have a leak."

In only took five hours, three trips to Ace Hardware for parts, dinner at Dairy Queen while the glue set and Rick and I outside filling the hole in the dark and wind - him shoveling and me holding the flashlight so he didn't break the pipe again to get it repaired.  On a positive note, according to Rick, at least the ground was soft since it was so saturated.  I am just grateful that we got off luckier than many of our neighbors who had pipes freeze and break inside their homes in our unusually cold weather.

The second reason we have to celebrate in our house is that Rick's motorcycle is finally repaired, licensed, registered and insured.  Which in other words means he can start riding it.  YEAH!!!  I don't know who is more excited - Rick or Emily.

Rick purchased the bike in July knowing that it needed some work.  The motorcycle shop finally had it repaired in December.  In this case I use the term repaired loosely since when Rick tried to drive it to the local mechanic to have the safety inspection completed, he realized that there was gasoline leaking from the engine.  Luckily Brett at Roadrunner was able to diagnose the problem as hoses that had been incorrectly connected and fix the problem.

I was really in the doghouse yesterday when Emily came home from school and learned that I hadn't made it out to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  She should be happy with me today and will probably be waiting impatiently at the door for Rick to get home so they can go for a ride.  It won't matter that it is raining.  Now we just need warmer gloves for Rick to wear and he will be riding a motorcycle to work once again.


Tomorrow I head to the east side of Zion for the Annual Women's (aka for me "Scrapbook") Retreat.  I am really looking forward to two days of hanging out with all the wonderful women that will be there; catching up with old friends and making new friends.  Hopefully I will get a few projects accomplished as well.

Rick may be making a trip to Logan soon to help Hunter with the truck.  The cold weather combined with Hunter's pedestrian tendencies have done a number on the truck battery and now the battery does not seem to hold a charge.  Rick is trying to decide if once I am home, he will need to do an up and back trip to help get the truck operational.  It will also be an excuse to see his son.  I say more power to him if he wants to go into the cold, mucky air that is Northern Utah in winter.  I will just stay here and enjoy the rain.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Very Merry Nerdy Christmas from Japan

I have come to accept the fact that I have raised some very nerdy children.

Here are a couple of them on New Year's Eve:

Now I hope you noticed the Pokemon (Pikachu) shirts.  These shirts were given to them by their sisters.  You should have seen the excitement exhibited Christmas morning as they were unwrapped.  The level of excitement only increased when it was explained that one also went to Japan to the middle son.  A portion of our Christmas Day phone call was the three boys coordinating a day that all would wear the shirt and pictures would be taken to commemorate the event.

Then we received a letter from said middle child that contained pictures of what he has been up to recently in his missionary service in Japan.  A bonus was a little Christmas present for each member of the family, complete with an explanation.  After reading the letter via telephone to the oldest son who had returned to school in the frozen north, he felt strongly that said present should be posted to this blog to further confirm to each of you my family's nerdiness.  So here is what we received, complete with the explanation.  I will forego  trying to type the words in Japanese, but stick to the English translation.

Mom - Blissey: Because you're the best mom and take care of us.

Dad - Flygon: Because Flygon is a dragon and is cool.  And dad is cool.
Hunter - Alakazam: I don't know why he likes it, but whatever.

Jon - Scizor: I don't know why he likes this one either.

Lela - Milotic: Because it's a beautiful fish.  Not a Tigershark though.

Emily - Dratini: I want her to know that she got one of my dragons for Christmas.  Hopefully she'll remember how nice I am to her.  And I think the card's cute.

Nataly - Charizard: Because Charizard is awesome! And she is awesome!

Hope you all have a very happy and blessed New Year and celebrate the nerdiness!